The Real Work

What if the work you’re paid to do isn’t the real work? What if, instead, the real work is the work you do to grow and evolve, and all the rest is lesson?

That was the response I received during a recent meditation session. This essay shares my thoughts on that response.

Tree of Life…the stitching continues

Before I get into what I discovered, I want to touch on the fact that, these days, I’m artist who is rarely making art, a writer rarely writing, and a poet rarely waxing lyrical. I am still a joy and ease believer, though. That’s not ever going to change again.

After two years of self-employment, which included one year of pandemic-enforced isolation, I’m learning I don’t have as much energy at the end of the work day as I did pre-entrepreneurship. I come home from work to cook dinner. By the time we’re done with our evening meal, I’m spent. I sit to relax for a bit and find myself promptly falling asleep on the couch. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for art or word crafting. So I released my expectations for weekdays and instead, focus my attention on my art and my words on the weekends. It’s taking me much longer to create my art or revise my novel than it would if I spent a tiny bit of time on them each day. This was making me feel guilty, like I was cheating myself, because I had this image in my mind that my art and my words are what I’m meant to do.

Which is why I asked the question I asked in my meditation.

As I sit in stillness and breath to center myself for my daily meditation practice, I always ask a question, sent silently up the line to my Higher Self and my Spirit Crew. In the session I’m talking about today, my question was: What is my real work?

I asked this because of my art and word crafting expectation for myself I mentioned above. I also asked this because, while I am enjoying my return to corporate life in construction management, it has a lot of challenges. There’s a toxicity to this project I haven’t experienced in quite a while, which can make it difficult to connect to the work. I’m also missing the time when I worked for myself. These conflicts can create resentment if I allow it. As a result, I’m always consciously seeking a balance between the freedom of my dream of entrepreneurship so I can spend time with my art and my words and the freedom of a steady paycheck.

So I asked “What is my real work?” The answer I received came as a statement, not as the questions I posed at the beginning of this essay (those questions are for you to ask yourself). The download went something like this:

Your real work is the work you do ON yourself, not something you do outside yourself. The work is growth, evolution, personal expansion. It is not paycheck work, or hobby-turned-income work. Every experience you’ve had has been an opportunity for growth, to navigate challenge, to overcome hurdle, to create solution. Every experience, from childhood to adulthood presented lessons to learn so you could grow. Your job is necessary because it presents challenges that allow you to connect to yourself. Working for yourself, and releasing it, was necessary to discover you do not thrive in isolation, even as an introvert. Making your art, writing your novel, the experience of your youth – all present lessons for your growth regardless of how much time you spend with them. The real work is your work. The real work is you and the choices you make while in your human form. The real work is love and light and joy, discovering this higher energy in all things. Your real work is not the definition of work. Your real work is to evolve. Embrace every experience, the easy but especially the hard, as part of your work. Use your rest time and quiet time to process these experiences. This is where you grow. This is your work.

This message fills me with gratitude. It helps me to find balance in my feelings when they veer from one extreme to another. It helps me to better understand why my art practice has slowed down. It helps me to navigate my way through low energy environments while maintaining my own high energy view. This message helps.

Prior to returning to corporate work, my art was the way and the place I processed and learned. Over the last 5 years, I’ve created feelings out of fiber, which allowed me to better understand emotion as I turned a feeling into a tangible work of art. That work will continue but at a slower pace because I’ve entered a different learning phase. Now, I’m learning from my job how best I’m meant to grow.

That doesn’t mean I’ll quit making my art or writing my words. I’ll just do it on weekends, releasing all expectations for anything other than the joy of creating. I’m still working on my Tree of Life piece, slowly stitching to add texture to the piece. Once I’ve finished it, I’ll move on to the next textured fiber painting. Maybe, like the Tree of Life, I’ll play with paint on fabric. Maybe I’ll create another feeling. Maybe I’ll create something totally different. I’ll know what I want to create when the time comes.

Because everything I experience, from working a job to making dinner to creating art carries lessons that lead to growth. That is my real work.

What is yours?

With joy and ease…

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Protecting Energy When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

Art making is not going according to plan. And I’m working on being okay with that.

Me, working on being okay with things not going according to plan. It’s a process.

When I last wrote an essay here, it was mid-June and I finally had my studio put together. I was excited to get back into art making, to dive into the stitching phase on my Tree of Life piece I’d begun before we relocated from Florida.

I’m still excited, however, I’ve found myself having to temper that excitement so I don’t beat myself up over not meeting my own expectations for myself and my art practice.

I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to work outside the home for someone else. I’d forgotten how much energy I absorb from others after a year of pandemic-induced isolation. I’d forgotten how much stress it’s possible to feel when you’re an empath and everyone around you is stressed.

I come home each night from work, worn out, exhausted. Prepping dinner takes what little energy I have left over, leaving none for weeknight studio time.

This disappoints me. When I worked outside the home before my two years of self-employment, I always had energy when the day ended. I always took at least 15 minutes to work in my studio – because it’s amazing how much art one can make #15minutesatatime. And I was satisfied. I met my own expectations for what I wanted my art practice to look like.

Now, I’m having to redefine those expectations. We have space constraints at work. I’m in a cubicle for the first time in 20 years because of those space constraints — almost no one has an office to themselves. There’s so much noise and constant activity, I find myself frequently distracted and not nearly as productive as I’m accustomed to being. This environmental impact to my energy is fierce.

But I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m focused on ways to protect my energy while still being engaged in my work. The more I can protect my energy, the more I can conserve it, the more I’ll have left over to play with my art each evening.

One way I’m doing this is through noise cancelling ear buds. These will help to create boundaries for myself in the office. I used them over the holiday weekend at home, while stitching on my Tree of Life. When I finally removed them, I was almost startled to hear music coming from the stereo the Big Guy had turned on while he did projects around the house.

Stitching on “Tree of Life” — slow and steady with metallic thread in whatever time I have available

Another way I protect my energy is through meditation. I already meditate each morning before leaving the house for work. I’m looking into meditations suitable for driving for my commute home, something to bring me back to myself, back to my heart, so I can release whatever energy I’ve absorbed during the day, and return to my innate joy and ease. And if I can’t find a guided meditation that suits, then I’ll crank up the music and let it flow over me.

I’ve also plugged studio time into my calendar, a 15 minute appointment with myself and my art each evening after work, which allows me to reserve energy for that time. I may not make every appointment, but scheduling time into my day reminds me of the importance of engaging with my creativity. Because I keep my expectation small — #15minutesatatime — it’s easier to meet and it allows me to stick to my plan. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, the right and left sides of my brain are constantly working together. Within the structure of a plan, I have space to experiment and freely create.)

Finally, I’m reminding myself I’m made of magic, as are we all. We are magic and Spirit, choosing to live in human form to experience and learn and grow, to evolve. This current situation, where I find myself looking for ways to better protect my energy when things don’t go according to plan, is just one more lesson to learn. And maybe, as I share my own learning, you’ll find ways to evolve too.

With joy and ease…

If you’re someone like me, who finds themselves needing to protect their energy when things don’t go according to plan, what do you do to bring yourself back to yourself?

I’d love to know. Please drop a comment below or send me a DM and let’s have a conversation – together, we may find just the solution you need.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Practicing Patience: An Exercise in BEING

Patience is not my strong suit. In fact, as the saying (sort of) goes, I was too impatient to stand in line when they were handing out patience in the Spirit realm before I took human form. Sitting around, waiting, drives me nuts.

But the reality is, practicing patience is an exercise in BEING. All dreams can come true when we operate from BEING, because BEING is where joy and ease live. So, if the purpose of life is to live with joy and ease, then patience truly is a virtue because it keeps us present.

Image credit: lessonslearnedinlife.com

Ants in my pants…

I’m talking about patience today because I’ve really been struggling with it lately. I’m in the middle of something that, when the outcome is revealed to me, will create a great deal of change in my life. This is something I’m excited about and eager to embrace. I’m ready to move forward into what will be a new phase. (Don’t worry: when it happens, I’ll tell you all about it.)

The issue is there’s still no firm answer. Each day, a tiny bit more drips into my awareness, teasing me. All the plans in the world won’t bring the answer any more quickly. All the visualization won’t do it either.

Instead, I must be patient and trust the Universe to deliver the outcome in its own perfect time and for the highest good of all. This is what BEING is all about, and it’s something I’ve forgotten to focus on in my excitement.

Trust the Universe…

BEING is all about staying present. The past can’t be changed. The future isn’t written. And the truth is neither past nor future can ever be entered as moments in time. The only time that exists IS the present but I, like you, find myself building castles in the sky for a future I’d like to manifest.

There’s – mostly – nothing wrong with building those castles. I’m grateful for the direction they give to my vision. They help me to feel the feelings that will bring them into my reality. They give me something on which to focus my energy.

But I said there’s MOSTLY nothing wrong in this. That means there’s a tiny bit of wrong and it is this:

When I attach to the vision of those castles, I remove myself from the present. When this occurs, my excitement and eagerness turn into anxiety and tremendous impatience. I want those castles NOW but the now when those castles exist hasn’t yet come to be in my timeline. The impatience sends a strong signal to the Universe, resulting in a mixed message, and the Universe always delivers based on the strongest emotion.

Instead of delivering on the gratitude and joy I feel when I imagine this new path, the Universe holds back the outcome because it knows I’m impatient. It breeds impatience like rabbits.

I don’t have room for all those impatient rabbits. Instead, I’ve got to let go and trust the Universe. I’ve got to be patient. I’ve got to remember the best thing I can do for my vision is to BE, and then do that.

With joy and ease…

I’m confident the outcome I’m anticipating will become reality. I wrote this essay to remind me to be patient and trust the Universe to deliver it in its own perfect time. I’m releasing the outcome, I’m practicing patience, and I’m going to only BE for awhile.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to sit on my hands and overdose on Netflix (although that is an option). BEING means I’m going to focus on what I choose to do in each moment and let everything else go. I’m going to immerse myself in gratitude for the lesson and revel in the joy of my vision. And one day, easily, effortlessly, my vision will be real.

What about you? How patient are you for the castles you’re building? I’d love to know.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Trauma vs. Joy & Ease: The Ultimate Cage Match

Ever since we rolled into 2021, my social media feeds have been peppered with graphics regarding trauma and trauma responses. Since I don’t believe in coincidences, the Universe is probably trying to tell me something.

Which means I’ve got to journal it out…in the form of this essay. You’re welcome.

Joy and ease…

I’m really big into joy and ease, which you know if you’ve been following along for even just a little while. I believe living a life of joy and ease is the actual purpose of our human existence. This means it’s our birthright to infuse everything we do with a sense of joy and a feeling of ease – both of which are possible when we lead with compassion and generosity.

But what happens to joy and ease when we experience trauma?

If you’re anything like me, those two get stomped on like the fighter who lets his guard down and ends up curled into the fetal position, pressed tightly against the cage surrounding the octagon. Joy and ease get bloodied, bruised, and often TKO’ed in the face of trauma.

But that doesn’t mean trauma ends joy and ease. Instead, it means we need to look at how we respond to trauma so we can reconnect to our joy and ease.

What is trauma?

First, let’s be clear. I’m no expert. I haven’t studied trauma as a professional. Remember, I’m just musing here.

With that in mind, I can only speak about trauma from my personal experience. For me, it ranges from being the recipient of schoolyard bullying, the death of multiple extended family members all within a short time frame while I was young, two divorces, a bit of work bullying, assorted other incidents that felt like slaps to the face, and a pandemic.

Kind of a lot when you think about it. And yet, joy and ease has become my default.

Trauma experiences lead us to question our worth and abilities. We may shrink in on ourselves, dimming our light because the trauma causes us to believe our light isn’t worth shining. Or we may come charging out of the gate, determined, angry, and overcompensating by doing all the things, believing worth is proven by staying busy.

I’ve done both. I bet you have too.

The thing is, when we respond to trauma in these ways, trauma wins the cage match. And while I can’t speak for you, I can say for myself, I’m always rooting for joy and ease to come out on top.

Here’s how I help joy and ease win:

I start by allowing myself to get quiet. This happens in one of two ways, depending on how I’ve reacted to the trauma.

I slow myself down when I realize I’m racing around, frantic and frazzled. I stop doing all the things and give myself permission to just. sit. still. The antidote to action is stillness. I close my eyes and rest.

If I’ve caved in on myself instead, I give myself the gift of time outdoors. This lets me feel like part of the world again. The antidote to wallowing is action. I let the fresh air cleanse me.

In both instances, thoughts regarding the trauma arise. It doesn’t matter if the trauma was recent or in the distant past. Trauma has a way of re-entering the ring when you least expect it. And each round must be fought.

So I let those thoughts rise. I let tears flow. I let anger course through me. I talk it out in my mind, a mental cage match between pain and self-worth. And here’s what happens every time:

I find myself turning to compassion, generosity, and forgiveness. I face down my trauma experiences, again and again, and each time, I refuse to back down. That mental cage match conversation somehow lets me distance myself enough to see the bigger picture, to see that the one causing the trauma is just as human as I am. And as such, is connected to me. Because we’re all connected. We’re all one. My experience is your experience is her experience is the world’s experience.

I forgive myself. When I do, I automatically forgive everyone else and joy and ease receive a resurgence of energy, enough to knock trauma right out of the ring.


Before I go, I just want to reiterate these are my musings on trauma and how I’ve chosen to respond to it in my life. Your experience may be different. But please, no matter your experience, don’t let trauma win. Do what you need to do to give joy and ease the space to be victorious. You’re worth it. Really.

I’d love to know the ways you’ve chosen joy and ease over trauma. Let’s start a conversation in the comments.

xo

Interested specifically in my art? Want a piece in your home? Then let’s talk!

Contact me about scheduling a virtual coffee, a private (virtual) art show of my existing work, or a commissioning conversation about creation of a textured fiber painting uniquely yours.

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

2020: The Limbo Year

2020 felt like we’d been suspended in limbo, everything on pause, even as we pivoted, shifted, and advanced. Or was that just me?

It’s a year we’ll all look back on as the one where everything changed and that’s good and right. Because 2020 was always meant to be a year in limbo, the transition ahead of the evolution.

Year end review…

I took the last week of the year off to process my thoughts about 2020. I always take the last week of a year to look back at what I did and didn’t do so I can look forward in anticipation of the next year. Even though 2020 was an exercise in suspension, my practice didn’t change.

As I looked back at my year, I discovered I spent a huge portion of 2020 feeling like a ghost, floating in that limbo space. I found myself caught up in the Doing most of the time, consumed with work to keep me busy and my mind occupied.

All this Doing led me to publish a book of my poetry, a renewed focus on my art practice, publication of a free eBook about creating feelings and turning them into art, and the first shitty draft of an intrigue / romance novel. These were bright lights in my year.

The Doing also led to one of the more intense depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced.

From the grey space…

From the grey space of depression, I discovered something important. A year in limbo offers gifts. 2020 opened the door to the transition ahead of the evolution where each and every one of us is offered the opportunity to Be who we’re meant to Be. There needed to be less Doing and more Being and in the latter part of 2020, that’s where I shifted.

And with the shift, everything changed. By focusing on Being over Doing, I discovered conforming to the image I had of myself as an entrepreneur wasn’t aligned. The work I want to do isn’t entrepreneurial; it’s spiritual and personal and can be done anywhere, at any time.

My work is writing and making art. These are things I’ve always done and will always do, whether they support me financially or not.

When I fully focused on Being, it became so much simpler to live from my heart and let my light shine.

Throughout the year, we all experienced major energetic waves – the virus, the civil unrest, the loss of “normal”, the gain of new ways to connect. The change, the growth, the fighting, the creativity – all of these were signposts for personal and spiritual evolution. And I evolved with them.

With joy and ease…

I’m returning to corporate work this year. It is meant. Writing and art making will continue because they feed my soul. In 2020, I learned to find and feel joy and ease in Being me, rather than through the things I Do.

This was my evolution. What was yours?

xo


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!